colorettoI’ve been playing some games during my lunch hour at work. I chose No Thanks! as the first game to introduce to my colleagues, but Coloretto was the game that first came to my mind when I was considering short and simple games for non-gamers. I think German designer Michael Schacht is a genius. He has designed many of my favorite games, like Patrician, Hansa, and Web of Power, and I think if I had the opportunity to meet any of the big name game designers, I would choose him. He designs games like I would like to design games, featuring simple rules with a good depth of strategy. My own attempts at game design have created interesting activities that are inexplicably devoid of any type of strategy, or for that matter, fun.

Coloretto is a set collection card game that features a mechanism that Schacht later used in Zooloretto, the 2007 Spiel des Jahres winner. Coloretto was first published in 2003 by ABACUSSPIELE, and the version that I own is from Rio Grande Games. The game will accommodate two to five players; although, I like it best with four or five. I think I taught my son to play it when he was seven, and he didn’t have any trouble with it. I think it was his favorite Michael Schacht game, until he played Zooloretto. You can play a game in less than 30 minutes, so it’s a really good filler or lunch game.

Coloretto is a set collection game, but it’s built upon a clever drafting mechanism that breaks a player’s turn into two choices:

  • Add a card to the space available in a holding area. -or-
  • Take all of the cards in one of the holding areas.

Holding areas can hold a maximum of three cards. Since space in the holding area is limited, a player must take all of the cards if there is no more space to add a new card. Players will score points based on the number of cards of a particular color that they collect. The more cards you collect, the more points you score; however, only three colors of cards may be collected for positive points. If you have more than three colors, then the additional cards will reduce your final score.

The fun of Coloretto all boils down to this one choice each turn. Do you take what is in front of you, or do you add a card to the selection and hope that you will get what you want on your next turn? Remember, the number of holding areas is equal to the number of players. The trick is to add to the holding areas in a way that will hurt your opponents and still leave yourself with a reasonable set of cards to choose on your next turn. I love it when I draw a card that I really want and then have to try and second guess what holding area will be the least enticing for my opponents.

Once you make the choice to take the cards in a holding area, then you are out of the round. You simply add the cards to the sets you have in front of you and wait until all of the holding areas have been taken. A new round will begin with the last player to take a holding area. Play continues until a card is drawn near the bottom of the deck that signals the final round.

Coloretto went over well with my work group at lunch. It’s a really good filler, and it travels well. You could play it on a small table if you are careful about how you arrange the cards. I like it quite a bit; in fact, I actually prefer Coloretto over its award winning child, Zooloretto. I like them both, but I like that I can play a game of Coloretto so quickly with no set up.

You can find Coloretto at your friendly local game store, or through a quality online retailer like Funagain.